Good morning! I’m glad you are here today! This morning we begin our summer sermon series on the life of one of the great heroes of our faith. His name is David. David wasn’t particularly special. He was an ordinary shepherd boy who became a giant killer, musician, poet, warrior, king. His story and his music continue to change people’s lives after 3000 yrs.
Through every success and failure, David’s desire was always to serve the Lord. When others were running away from the Lord, David was always running toward the Lord. We can learn a lot from a guy like that. God called him a man after my own heart.
Our nation is in desperate need of heroes – ordinary men and women of integrity, humility, grit, courage, faith and courtesy who are willing to stand against the godlessness phony facades within us and around us. David was such a man. This battle is not new. It was with David and we all face it too. Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Samuel 8 and set the scene.
It’s about 1040 BC. Israel has been in the land for over 300 years. Unlike the nations around them, Israel doesn’t have a human king. The LORD God was to be their King. But again and again Israel rejected the Lord as king and fell into bondage to the surrounding nations. Then they would repent and God would raise up a leader to deliver them.
One day they came to their great prophet Samuel and demanded that they be given a king so they could be like all the nations around them. They wanted a tall, strong, good looking king, a real charmer! When Samuel took the people’s request to the LORD, the Lord said:
“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king…..Now listen to them, but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do... 1 Sam 8:6-9
So that’s what Samuel did. He warned them very clearly. And here’s their response. “No, we want a king... Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Sam 8:19-20
How do you think things turned out? Not too good. This desire to be admired by the world seems to be part of our sinful nature doesn’t it! The people demanded a “looker” and they got a “looker”. His name was Saul. He was cowardly, self-centered, undisciplined, godless, but he looked good! He ruled for 40 years - most of them as a schizophrenic madman.
Saul refused to submit to the LORD. Instead of recognizing the Lord as King, he served himself as king. He was king of his own heart. He didn’t think he needed any other king. He refused to obey the Lord and as a result the LORD withdrew his Spirit from him.
Without the Spirit of the Lord to protect us, we are easy prey for the spirits and demons of this world. We want God to be there for us, but we refuse to trust and obey him as our king.
Samuel warned him - “You have acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’S command.” 1 Sam 13:13-14
Who do you serve as king? Who sits on the throne of your heart? Who wears the crown? Whose kingdom are you serving? Whose will is being done? Is the desire of your heart to serve the Lord or to have the Lord serve you? Who is king in your heart? If you are unwilling to submit the authority of your life to the Lord, you are on the same dead end road as Saul.
15 years into Saul’s reign, the LORD sent Samuel to the tiny village of Bethlehem, to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to replace Saul as the future king of Israel. Samuel is terrified that Saul will kill him, but the LORD tells him “Trust me”, so Samuel obeys.
Now the only thing Jesse has going for him is that he’s the grandson of Ruth and Boaz. He isn’t wealthy or well-known. He’s not a “somebody”, he’s a “nobody” in the world’s eyes. But he does have 8 sons – a couple of which are tall strong strapping young farm boys. The oldest is Eliab. When Samuel sees Eliab, he thinks to himself, “This has got to be the one!”
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7
That’s true isn’t it! Strength, talent, beauty are all worshipped in our culture. We spent millions of dollars struggling to develop and preserve it. We worship the package and disregard the contents. Even though we know beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive.
So why do we do that? It comes from the evil one - the master charmer, the chief narcissist. And he uses his charm as a weapon to destroy us. Sometimes it’s the most beautiful who are the greatest victims in this beauty cult. Maybe that’s what happened to Saul. Ask God to help you see past the veneer and value and develop the treasure within, especially if you are in ministry!
After Eliab passed by, Jesse called in his second son, Abinadab. And then Shammah and then the next and the next until 7 sons had passed by Samuel. Finally Samuel asks, “Are you sure this is this all the sons you have.” Sounds like the Cinderella story, doesn’t it!
Jesse replies, “O yeah, I almost forgot, there is one more. But he’s just a runt, tail gunner you know. He’s only 13 years old. He’s out watching the sheep. Are you sure you want to see him? I mean look at these boys! What fine men they are!”
“Send for him”, Samuel said, “Nobody sits down until he gets here.” Soon 13 yr. old David is brought in. The text describes him as “ruddy, with a fine appearance, and handsome features.” Whether that means he had red hair, or his skin was reddened by the sun and wind, I don’t know. As a “once upon a time” redhead, I like to think he had red hair. Then the LORD said to Samuel. “Rise and anoint him, he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.” 1 Sam 16:12
It would still be 25 years before David took the throne. But David had the right heart, the right raw material. There were still a lot of lessons the Holy Spirit needed to teach the 13 year old before he was ready to assume his position as shepherd/king over God’s people.
Note that Samuel anointed David king of Israel while his family was watching. Yet David remained in his place as a shepherd boy caring for his father’s sheep. He obeyed his father’s commands and his relationship with the LORD began to deepen and grow.
Under the open sky with only the Spirit of God as his instructor, David learned to lead and care for his flock. He became a skilled musician. Day and night, he poured out his heart in prayer and worship. He became an experienced courageous warrior battling lions and bears that threatened his lambs. He gained political savvy dealing with the other shepherds.
Meanwhile back on the throne, King Saul’s sanity is slipping away. An evil spirit terrorizes him and he’s falling into fits of depression and rage. Someone suggests that they find a musician who can play for him and soothe him when the spells come over him.
So Saul sends them to find “somebody”. Guess who they come back with? A “nobody” teenage shepherd boy named David. Here’s how Saul’s servant describes him to the king. “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” 1 Sam 16:18
David spends the next 10 years going back and forth from his job as a shepherd boy to the king’s court. Do you suppose the LORD had anything to do with that? Is the Lord guiding David’s steps? What do you think David learned about the duties of a king during that time?
Through it all, David keeps his humble heart. He splits his time between caring for the sheep and caring for the king. He sleeps under the stars, he sleeps in the palace. He writes songs of praise to the Lord; he sings them to the king. He fights lions and bears and submits to his father Jesse. There is a big difference between the way the world chooses and builds a king and the way God chooses and builds a king – would you agree?
When he became an old man, David wrote the wisdom he had gained in Psalm 37 “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong, for like the grass the will soon wither…trust in the LORD and do good…delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart… Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land…” Ps 37:1-3;34
David made some terrible mistakes, but he always ended up running towards the Lord rather than away from him. Does that describe you this morning? David learned that only the Lord could save him from the threats outside of him and the sin within him. And he made the Lord his king, his refuge and his strength. Will you pray with me? Lord Jesus, I want my life to matter. I don’t want to get the end of my time on earth only to discover I have spent the time, talent, and treasure you have given me serving myself. Forgive me for the times I have run away from you rather than to you. I want my heart to be like your heart so that out of my ordinary life might come extraordinary things for you and your kingdom. I proclaim you as King and I surrender the throne of my life to you!
Next week – How God used a flock of sheep to prepare a young shepherd boy to be a king.